The Scoop on Orthotists and Prosthetists

Orthotics and Prosthetics provide piece of mind and comfort to those who have deformities or have lost limbs to disease or accidents.

This sort of job is the kind where you can bring a smile to someone's face by giving him or her something they've lost of by putting him or her in balance when their body may not necessarily be balanced. This is type of work that is quite grueling but that has massive rewards. Let's take a look.

What in the World Do Orthotists and Prosthetists Do?

Those these two terms are used interchangeably the practice of each is slightly different. Orthotists produce supports and structures to be worn on the body or with clothing that will balance the body or provide support to bones so that they can be strengthened. Orthotics can range from risers to put in your shoes if one leg is longer than the other to neck supports that will help strengthen the cervical spine.

Prosthetists produce "false limbs" that patients can wear because they have lost that limb. The limbs have to be custom produced or custom fit to the patient. The profession involves he measuring, molding and sketching of the patient's body. After getting al the information you can you may want to see pictures of the patient before they lost their limb so that you can produce the most realistic limb possible.

Many times the same professional can do work in Orthotics AND Prosthetics, but sometimes you may be able to specialize in one or the other field.

What Kind of Training do I need (A.K.A. - Will I have to go to School?)

Training for Orthotics and Prosthetics usually takes place in a 2-year program. This can be in a training program at a vocational school or by getting an Associate's Degree from a junior college. Many times the training for these fields can be combined so that you know both specialties when you leave school.

After you finish your training you will need to get a license to practice as an Orthotist or Prosthetist. This usually means you'll need to pass a written test and a "skills" exam before you can be presented with a license. Some states do not require a license, but you may want to get certification from the AOPA (American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association). Many times this certification (which is not required by law) makes you much more attractive to potential employers.

How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?

Most Orthotists and Prosthetists work in hospitals or independent offices. This is a job where you can either work for a healthcare company or own your own practice. At a hospital you'll most likely have your own office and workspace where you can aid patients with Orthotics and Prosthetics. Sometimes you may need to go to the patient to treat them, but that depends on your situation.

If you own your own practice you will need to build a client base through referrals from local Doctors. If you are not the social type then you need get used to schmoozing other professionals so that they will want to refer their patients to you. Because this business is one where you need o constantly service your patients you need to be certain that you have an office staff who will aid you with clerical work, appointments and billing.

Advancement in this profession usually means that you would become a Supervisor of other Orthotists and Prosthetists at a hospital or health clinic. Many times you may be able to do research in Orthotics and Prosthetics or teach the trade at a college or vocational school. Either way, you won't only have to deal with the "One-Armed Man" your whole career.

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Orthotists and Prosthetists Overview

Orthotists and Prosthetist Salary:$62,590
Job Prospects:B-
Education after high school:5 years
# Employed in US:5,490
% Who work Part Time:15%
Physical Difficulty:+ + +
Intellectual Difficulty:+ + +
Emotional Difficulty:+

The Pros of being an Orthotist or Prosthetist

  • Training can be done relatively quickly
  • You can combine the two specialties
  • You can own your own practice if you want to

The Cons of being an Orthotist or Prosthetist

  • You spend a lot of time working with your hands
  • You spend a lot of time on your feet
  • If you are not artistically inclined you may have a hard time producing false limbs